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PACBI-Olmert to Abbas: PA bid to curb our Europe ties 'unacceptable'

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Haaretz | June 2, 2008

Olmert to Abbas: PA bid to curb our Europe ties 'unacceptable'

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday protested to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas efforts by his government to curb Israel's burgeoning relations with Europe and the international community.

At the meeting at Olmert's Jerusalem residence, the prime minister mentioned letters sent by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to the European Union and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in which Fayyad requested they not upgrade ties with Israel in light of ongoing settlement building, and lack of progress in peace talks.

Olmert told Abbas: "This is completely unacceptable to us, and does not represent the relations today between the sides, and returns us to the negative rhetoric of the preceding period." He was referring to the hostilities of the second intifada when the Palestinian Authority was under the control of its late chairman Yasser Arafat.

For their part, the Palestinians at the meeting condemned the government's approval for plans to build nearly 900 additional homes for Israelis in east Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, officials said Olmert's strategy was to push ahead with the negotiations with the Palestinians, as well as indirect talks with Syria, as if nothing has changed in hope a corruption investigation does not end in charges against him.

"This process will continue," Regev said of the talks with the Palestinians, adding that Olmert recommitted himself during the meeting to trying to reach a deal on Palestinian statehood by the end of the year.

Olmert is suspected of illicitly receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Jewish American fundraiser.

"We're hopeful, still, that it will be possible to reach such an agreement," Regev said. "I can say unequivocally that there was progress reached in this meeting today." He gave no details.

Posted on 03-06-2008

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